pro-verbs cross-linguistically

Baris Kabak Baris.Kabak at UNI-KONSTANZ.DE
Wed Apr 21 15:35:42 UTC 2004

In response to Nino's inquiry:

Colloquial Turkish employs a particular compound verb construction which
seems to correspond to oblitive verbs. The construction is formed by
'sey'(thing) (borrowed from Arabic) plus an auxiliary verb (et- or ol-).
Auxiliary verbs et- 'do' and ol- 'become' have been used as one of the
productive ways to derive new verbs from nouns and adjectives of foreign
origin (e.g., telefon et- 'to phone'; idrak et- 'to comprehend'; hesap
et- 'to calculate', sarhos ol- 'to get drunk'; fena ol- 'to become/feel
bad', etc.). The auxiliary verbs in such constructions are inflected for
TAM markers just like any other verbs in Turkish. The combination of
'sey' and et- / ol- is typically used when the speaker cannot retrive
the verb from memory, when (s)he is not sure about it, or when (s)he
does not want to name the action/state. It can also be used to refer to
a previous verb in the discourse.

Some examples:

(1) Bilet-i    sey et-tir-di-m.	
    ticket.Acc thing Aux.Caus.Past.1Sg.
    'I had the ticket VERB.ed (confirmed/cancelled/exchanged, etc...).

(2) Bu-nu    boyle      sey    ed-ebil-ir-sin-iz.
    This.Acc like this  thing  Aux.Abil.Aor.2P.Pl.
    'You can VERB this like this' (could mean anything
'break/open/paint/microwave, etc.)

(3) Birden    sey    ol-du-k...    Deli-ce    kos-mag-a basla-di-k.
    Suddenly  thing  Aux-Past-1Pl. Crazy-Der. run.Inf.Dat
    'Suddenly, we VERBed / were VERBed... We started to run like crazy'

Since Turkish creates new verbs via verbal compounding or via the use of
derivational morphemes, it is perhaps not surprising to see the
formation of an oblitive verb through an already existing derivational

Baris Kabak, Ph.D.
University of Konstanz
Department of Linguistics
SFB 471- Fach D 174
78457 Konstanz, Germany
Phone: +49-(0)7531-88-4758

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